Your chance to qualify to the Kazakhstan Cup, costs covered – with a $50,000 prize fund!

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Starting 17 June, the riverside city of Aktobe in western Kazakhstan will host a nine-round classical open tournament with a whopping $50,000 prize fund up for grabs.

One lucky player can qualify through a series of tournaments held only on Lichess. They will have their flights, full board, and accommodation in Aktobe covered for them – as well as a share of a $2,000 prize fund for the online qualifier.

The Lichess qualifier will have three stages. The first will comprise three open-entry arena tournaments, aimed especially towards the timezones of North and South America, Europe, and Central Asia / India.  

The top 15 players from each arena will then play a single 11-round Swiss tournament, where they may be joined by up to five wildcard players.

Finally, the top seven finishers from the Swiss tournament will be joined by a wildcard player, and the qualifier will be determined by single-elimination knockout rapid matches. 

Everyone who makes it to the knockout stage will receive a share of a $2,000 prize fund. 

Prize fund

The Kazakhstan Chess Federation has contributed $2,000 towards the online prize fund, a share of which will be awarded to everyone who qualifies to the knockout stage of the qualifier, broken down as follows:

  • 1st – $500 and flights, full board and accommodation to the Aktobe Open, with a ~$50,000 total prize fund on offer (around $10,000 to first place).
  • 2nd – $500
  • 3rd and 4th – $250 each
  • 5th to 8th – $125 each

Schedule and regulations

Three first-stage arenas will be held online. Each arena will be two hours long, with a time control of 3+2. Berserk will be allowed. The top 15 players from each arena will qualify to the second stage. Players may enter multiple arenas as long as they have not already qualified.

In the second stage, a single Swiss tournament will be held for at least 45 players. This will be an 11-round tournament with a time control of 5+3. The top seven players from the tournament will qualify for the third (knockout) stage.

  • Swiss Qualifier: Saturday 27 May, 14:00 UTC

A single-elimination knockout tournament will be held for the top seven players from the Swiss tournament, plus a Lichess wildcard. The format will be two 15+10 rapid games (one with White, one with Black), with two 5+3 blitz games as tie breaks if necessary, and a final tie break of a 5 / 4 Armageddon game.

  • Knockout Stage: Sunday 28 May, 14:00 UTC

All players in the knockout stage will be required to join an online call with FIDE arbiters. Lichess also reserves the right to ask for this at earlier stages.
Interested players should read the full regulations carefully. All qualifier participants will be assumed to have consented to the regulations, which can be found here. 

If you would like to be considered for a wildcard spot for either the Swiss or knockout stages, please complete this online form. Wildcards will be decided based on a combination of factors, including age, rating, and current playing opportunities. All wildcard decisions are final and made solely at the discretion of Lichess.

About the Kazakhstan Cup

The Kazakhstan Cup is a series of tournaments held in Kazakhstan and organised by the Kazakhstan Chess Federation. These qualifier events are possible thanks to the generosity of the Kazakhstan Chess Federation.

The tournament held in Aktobe will be a nine-round event with a time control of 90+30. The full regulations for that event are available in Russian here.

(Title image – The Astana Times)

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